Omaha has a tee time at Topgolf.
Friday will be the grand opening of the reported $23 million Topgolf facility near Westroads Mall, high above the Interstate 680-West Dodge Road interchange.
The wait has been three years, extended by the coronavirus pandemic, since plans were announced. Construction began in June 2019.
Topgolf was to open March 23. The state’s directed health measures, aimed at slowing the pandemic, were issued a week earlier.
“The community has been amazing,” said Marcus Parent, director of operations. “People have been so excited about this, and I’m just so happy that we’re able to make this finally happen.”
With golf, social distancing comes naturally. Parent said the hitting areas are 11 feet apart between each of the 72 bays spread across two levels. But other safety measures have been put into place.
Clear, 8-foot-by-5-foot vinyl dividers hang between the five-seat tables in each bay. Golf clubs, game screens and tables are disinfected between each group’s use. Touchless menus are found on an app or the Internet.
Even the custom golf balls, which have microchips in them to track each player’s shot in real time, are disinfected between uses. They are dispensed automatically in a hitting bay, and the only time a player has to pick one up is to put it on a rubber tee.
Parent said Topgolf, which will employ more than 300, will have its staff go through daily wellness screenings, including temperature checks, before they can work.
While about 80% of Topgolf’s U.S. facilities had reopened, Parent said, the Omaha operation was waiting on the appropriate directed health measures from the state and worked with the Governor’s Office and Mayor’s Office.
“We were in lockstep in terms of when it was safe to return,’’ he said. “Topgolf, in general, safety is our No. 1 concern. So before we opened we wanted to ensure we had our systems and protocols in place so the safety of our guests and associates were preserved.”
Mask use by customers is strongly encouraged, he said. The staff is wearing masks.
Topgolf considers itself a “technology-driven entertainment venue” beyond hitting golf balls. Groups can order food and beverages while playing. Guests also have access to a full-service restaurant, multiple bars (currently closed), open-air terraces and a family-entertainment zone with games. Space is available for corporate events and parties.
Golfers hit into a net-wrapped outdoor field, aiming at any of 11 color-coded, LED-illuminated targets or at the 155-foot-high back net that’s 225 yards from the climate-controlled hitting bays.
The microchips in the balls award points for accuracy or luck, with 10 games to choose from. Each bay offers full sets of clubs, but golfers can bring their own.
Parent, who’s been in Omaha since November, said it’s time to open up.
“Topgolf, we’re a family, our associates, our managers,’’ Parent said. “To lose that connection over three months was very tough, but now that we’re able to bring back these jobs to the market, we’re able to bring our families back home and we’re getting ready to open this thing up, it just feels really good.”